Hunter Street, a subsidiary of the Barnsley-based Brook Group, has welcomed the approval by Cheshire West & Chester Council of its listed building application to work on the old cinema site.
The listed building approval came despite the recent planning committee refusal of the application for change of use.
Jason Brook, chief executive of the Brook Group, said: "We are delighted to have been awarded listed building approval as this demonstrates support from the council for our proposed works to the building, confirming that they are in-keeping with the nature of the building. We are obviously disappointed not to have been successful in our change of use application but are currently taking legal advice and are considering appealing the decision made by the city's planning department."
The planning application was submitted on 27 January 2011 in a move, Brook said, to support the council's ongoing proposals for a new cultural and arts provision as part of the retail-led Northgate development. The application requested change of use at the former cinema building to seven units including cinema/theatre/performance space, cafe, retail and restaurant. The refused application contained no plans for a nightclub.
Brook claims to be in discussions with national restaurant operators for the location, which would complement the theatre and arts facility.
The Brook Group added: "It has been apparent over the past 12 months that there is an extremely strong desire from the residents of Chester to have a high quality theatre and arts facility in the city centre. This desire has been supported by a report from Locum Consulting which identified the former cinema site as both the preferred and the most cost effective option to achieve the delivery of a theatre in Chester."
Jason Brook said: "As a private company we have taken the theatre aspect of our proposed scheme as far as we can and would welcome discussions with the local authority and any other relevant parties with regards to working with us by combining their own property interests on Northgate Street to create an enhanced scheme. We have had no dialogue with the local authority in respect of a joint approach to their issue of the lack of theatre provision. Combining our property interests could help to deliver a larger theatre with support from public funding. The Locum report commissioned by the local authority identifies a saving of over £12m if the theatre is located at the Odeon site."